Duck breast prosciutto is a perfect place to start if you are interested in the world of charcuterie. It is not a huge investment in time or money to make a delicious piece of salt-cured meat. The only ingredients you need is some sea salt, black pepper and of course duck breast. Traditional pork prosciutto is made from the leg of pig, but finding room for a leg of pig in your kitchen is not such an easy feat. Pork prosciutto is a huge piece of meat that takes a long time to cure. Salt-cured duck breast prosciutto on the other hand is much more attainable and makes a great addition to your charcuterie board that needs no special equipment. This natural process keeps the piece of meat preserved for a long period of time with no need to freeze.
This recipe takes about two weeks to complete. You can however let the duck breast hang for longer for a more complex flavor. If you are new to the taste of cured meats i would try a short two week hang time.
Pasture Raised Ducks
This year on the farmstead we raised our own Duclair ducks. They are a French dual-purpose breed of duck that has fabulous earthy flavored meat that makes excellent prosciutto. After seven short weeks they were ready for harvest. I had been itching to try this easy way of salt curing duck breast after hearing about it form Tara of Slowdown Farmstead. It amazed me how simple she made it sound and after doing it myself and getting such rewarding results i had to share my experience.
I wanted to keep the recipe as simple as possible and with only a handful of Ingredients. I really wanted to taste the duck meat we worked so hard to raise, so i didn’t want to clutter up the flavour with powerful herbs and spices. The French have a word “terroir” which means to taste the soil or earth from where the animal was raised. I kept this in mind when making this prosciutto.
Feel free to add more ingredients to your salt mixture when you do this yourself. In the futures i will be experimenting with more ingredients during the curing process such as bay leaves, juniper berries, sprigs of fresh thyme, star anise, and fresh rosemary.
Duck Prosciutto Recipe:
I have a whole duck so the first step for me is to cut the breast from the duck being careful to keep the preciouses skin and layer of fat intact.
The Salt Cure
You want to use a non-reactive container, so I got my glass Tupperware container with a lockable lid. Put down a bed of salt and place your single duck breast on top of the salt, skin side up. I used paper towels to dry my duck breast before placing on the salt. Salt creates an environment on the duck breast that is inhospitable to bad bacteria. This has been a meat preservation method for centuries.
Next, completely cover the breast with salt. I am using redmond sea salt for this. You do not want any part of the duck exposed. Lock the lid of your tupperware and place in the fridge for 24 hours.
After the 24 hours take your duck out of the salt. The meat should be darker and firmer to the touch. Rinse the salt off the breast with cold running water and again dry with a towel. I then dust the breast with pepper and wrap in cheesecloth. Tie up your cheesecloth covered duck with butcher’s twine or kitchen string to keep the cheesecloth on. I weighed and recorded the weight of my duck breast. My duck breast weighs 8 oz before starting the drying process.
I then hang the wrapped duck breast in the fridge for a couple of weeks. The fridge is an excellent option because it’s as close to the ideal temperature as you can get. The fridge makes a great curing chamber. Make sure the duck cures in a humid location by periodically putting open containers of water in the fridge.
As a general rule I want the weight to go down about 30% from the original weight. After the two weeks are up i start to weigh the breast to see if it is ready. Since my original weight is 8 oz I am shooting for around 5.6 oz as my final weight.
Check your duck breast periodically for mold. White or green mold is no cause for alarm an can be wiped away with salt water. If you find black mold is growing on the other hand it’s not safe to consume and you must throw the duck away.
The size of the breast will affect drying time, but as reference mine took two weeks to hit my desired weight.
Once the the weight has lowered that 30% it’s time to slice the duck. Using a sharp knife cut as thin of pieces as possible. I have found this to be the one of the most delicious ways to consume our home grown ducks. Our own duck prosciutto paired great with aged cheese and red wine. The prosciutto should have a silky texture and balanced flavor.
To store your duck breast proscuitto simply wrap in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge.
I love the proscuitto on a cracker, diced up in pasta, or on a slice of bread.
I was very happy with the results of this technique and will be doing it again in the future. It is probably my favorite dry cured product that I have made and on par with traditional prosciutto i have purchased from the store. With a little bit of patience this will surely be a hit on your next charcuterie plate.